George Catlin. “Buffalo Bull, Grazing.” From Catlin’s North American Indian Portfolio. Hunting Scenes and Amusements of the Rocky Mountains and Prairies of America. London: G. Catlin, 1844. Folio. Lithograph drawn by McGahey and printed by Day & Hague. Full original hand color. Very good condition. Framed to museum standards.
An original antique print by George Catlin. The prints of George Catlin mark a poignant and heroic moment in the history of American art and culture. Setting out to chronicle and immortalize Indian culture, George Catlin lived a life of pioneer adventure and spirit colored by the ideal of the ‘noble savage’ in his pristine environment. In 1830 he went out to St. Louis and from there traveled extensively for several years to Indian villages along the Platte and Missouri rivers and then later to tribes throughout the far west. The result was some 500 paintings and one of the most significant chronicles of Indian life and culture ever produced. Catlin put his paintings on exhibit in the United States and Europe, hoping to make his fortune, but though they were popular, these exhibitions were a financial failure. In an attempt to expand his market, Catlin had a number of his paintings made into prints, issuing them in 1844 as Catlin’s North American Indian Portfolio.
This print is one of the most desirable of Catlin’s portfolio, for it presents sensitive image of the noble American bison. The impressive male buffalo gazes out at the viewer, strong and peaceful, unaware of the doom soon to be visited on him and his kind. At a time when most saw the buffalo as the source of valuable fur, useful meat, or simply in the way, this is a most sympathetic image. It is to many the most desirable print of the American buffalo.